An Indian-origin researcher along with colleagues from University of Guelph in Canada has developed a simple and effective tool to predict avian flu outbreaks on chicken and other bird farms in barely two minutes.

Current tests require samples to be sent to a laboratory, where it can take eight hours to a couple of days to yield results.

“This test only needs two-to-three minutes to incubate, and then you get the results immediately. Not only that, but it is more cost-effective. Conventional techniques are time-consuming, labour-intensive, and require special facilities and expensive laboratory instruments,” Neethirajan said. “Treatment, especially when dealing with humans who have been infected, needs to start as soon as possible,” he said.

The new diagnostic tool uses a small blood sample and relies on a simple chemical colour change to see not only whether a chicken has avian flu but also what viral strain is involved. “It is critical to get out front of any outbreaks. There are many strains, and we need to know the source of the flu. The identification of the strain determines what treatment options we should use,” Neethirajan emphasised.

The device uses gold nanoparticles (microscopic particles) and glowing quantum dots. The researchers developed a novel approach for rapid and sensitive detection of surface proteins of viruses from blood samples of turkeys. The new nanobiosensor can detect the strains of H5N1 and H1N1, the researcher noted. The subtype H1N1 is human adapted while most H5 are avian oriented, Neethirajan added.

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